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Change of Scenery

by | Jul 22, 2015 | 2 comments

Summer is in full swing, and I’ve been busy enjoying it with the family. Since the kids are out of school, we took some time to vacation in California. Mid-June, we set off on a mini road trip that began in Los Angeles and coursed up the Pacific Coast Highway to Monterey Bay. After two days in the Pacific Grove area, we cut across The Golden State to meet up with 16 other family members in Yosemite. We finished it off with a weekend at a family camp.

Can you believe there were 20 of us in all?!? We had a blast!!!

I put together this photo story to share with you the places we visited.

City of Angels


Our first stop was Los Angeles. My sister-in-law lives there, so we actually travel to L.A. a couple of times a year. This time, we were visiting to celebrate her daughter’s 18th birthday and high school graduation. What a milestone! Not to mention, she is now a Hokie! We are so proud of her and can’t wait to watch her life continue to unfold.

The gathering was fun and laid-back. We had a great time catching up with relatives, playing UNO, volleyball, and of course, eating.

Photo Story graduation

Los Doyers


The next day, we met up with some of my family from Florida, who was also in L.A., to go see a Dodger game. While I’m not a sports fan, I do enjoy going to baseball games. I love the slow pace, the peanuts, and the small talk in between runs. The Dodgers lost to the Cardinals (2-4), but we had fun cheering for them anyway.

Photo Story Dodger game

The Scenic Route


The following morning, we headed north on the Pacific Coast Highway. We drove along this highway last summer and loved it so much that we decided to do it again. The coastline along this route is absolutely breathtaking! It’s punctuated with many delightful places that are worth exploring, which makes the drive appear shorter than it really is. Driving the Pacific Coast Highway should be on everybody’s bucket list!!


We stopped at San Luis Obispo to check out their famous Bubblegum Alley. It was kinda gross yet fascinating to see hundreds of colorful wads of gum plastered on the walls. People began sticking their gum to these walls during the 1960s, if not earlier, which makes some of the gum older than me!


Of course, the boys thought this was way cool, and they added their pieces of watermelon gum to the wall. Sebastian got creative and wrote his name with the gum!

Photo Story Bubblegum Alley



After Bubblegum Alley, it was about time for lunch. I love good food, so I planned it just right in order to eat at Ruddell’s Smokehouse. I had read about their mouthwatering fish tacos, and I just had to try one. Once again, my fellow Yelpers didn’t let me down! The boys and I had a savory salmon taco and Oscar had a shrimp taco which was equally delicious. If you are driving through here, it’s worth checking out Ruddell’s. While the tacos are pricey, they are also large. One per person is plenty.


Cayucos State Beach is right across the street from Ruddell’s Smokehouse, so after lunch we walked over and let the boys play in the sand. This is a great beach for kids. The sand is soft, the water is mostly calm, and there is a well-maintained playground.

Photo Story Cayucos State Beach

Are we there yet?


Our goal was to get to Monterrey before nightfall, but we had two more stops planned along the way. First, we wanted to get down at Sebastian’s Store, which shares the same name as my little guy. Then, we wanted to take some pictures at Bixby Bridge. We did make an unplanned stop along the way to check out the elephant seals. I am always impressed with the size of these animals. We even spotted two of them quarreling over a spot in the sand!

Photo Story Sebastian's store

In the Fog


Unlike the last time we drove down the Pacific Coast Highway, this time it was very foggy. We didn’t get to see much of the coastline, but the fog was beautiful in its own right. It added a mysterious aura to our drive that made me think of Ireland. I’ve never been there, but I’ve always imagined it as a foggy place. The boys got a real kick out of driving through the thick brume because it was like cutting through a cloud.

Photo Story Bixby Bridge

Finally made it!


We arrived in Monterey around 6:00 PM and checked into the Asilomar Conference Grounds. Oscar had suggested we stay here, and it was definitely a good pick! While it provides very basic lodging, the grounds are fantastic. It’s a lodge-style facility located in the middle of Asilomar State Beach. The terrain is vast and ranges from pine tree forests to sand dunes.


It was pretty cold when we got there, but we explored the area before sundown and took a quick peek at the beach which was shrouded in fog. You could hear the waves crashing, but you couldn’t see them unless you were up close.

Photo Story Asilomar State Beach

The Sea Life


The next day, we went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium – one of the best aquarium’s we’ve visited. Aside from being clean and well-kept, it has some beautiful exhibits and friendly staff. The boys loved the penguin and sea otter exhibits. My favorites were the jellyfish tanks and the Kelp Forest, which is two stories tall. The aquarium also has a terrace on the second floor with a magnificent view of the bay.

Photo Story monterey aquarium

Jumping the Waves


The fog from the day before had lifted, so after visiting the aquarium we headed back to the beach to walk along the shore. It was still quite chilly. Getting wet was NOT in our plans. But of course, Diego got soaked – as always.

Photo Story Asilomar State Beach 2

On the Road Again


The next morning we packed up and headed toward Yosemite to meet up with the rest of our family. There were 14 of us from Las Vegas and six of us from Florida. We were a big, loud bunch! It was so much fun! We stayed in a cabin called Hutchings House, right in the middle of the forest. We went on several hikes and strolls with beautiful views, giant trees, tall waterfalls, and lots of wildlife.

Photo Story Yosemite cabin

Day 1 In Yosemite:

Photo Story Yosemite hike 1
Photo Story Yosemite hike 2
Photo Story Yosemite hike 3

Day 2 In Yosemite (A.M. Hike):

Photo Story Yosemite hike 4
Photo Story Yosemite hike 5

Day 2 In Yosemite (P.M. Hike):

Photo Story Yosemite hike 6
Photo Story Yosemite hike 7

Winding Down at Camp


The final chapter of our vacation was family camp at Lair of the Golden Bear. We all went to a family camp last year and enjoyed it so much that we decided to do it again. Camp is the perfect place to relax and unwind because everything is taken care of. The camp staff facilitate planned activities and provide three meals a day. Your job is to participate and spend time with your family and other campers!

Photo Story Yosemite hike 8
Photo Story family camp

Heading Home!


If you’re still reading this — thanks for hanging in there! I know this was an extra long post (not long in words but in pictures). I wanted to record these memories somewhere, but I’m terrible at printing photos and putting them in albums or scrapbooks. Who has time for that, right? Instead I created this photo story which was way more fun and shareable.


I leave you with one last pic to show you how we were all feeling by the end of this trip:

Photo Story going home

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